Wednesday 31 August 2016

You are not the door mat

There's this arty-farty Mainland China movie that I watched in Shanghai some years back that left a deep impression even now.

I normally prefer mindless action flicks; but this was an exception because of the actress. Yes, she is pretty.

The protagonist in the movie is an aspirant opera singer living in the shanty town suburbs of Beijing. 

The problem is...

She is way past her prime at 40 plus...


And downright ugly... 

But that has never stopped her from taking part in opera singing competitions and auditioning for parts in operas. 

Rejections after rejections; she will cry her heart out. 

To pay for her living expenses, this opera aspirant gives singing lessons to the young 20 somethings who are chasing their own opera dreams.

When some of her young students managed to land small opera singing roles, you can see the internal struggles she had to grapple with... 

Behind the congratulatory smiles and words, there's this sourness that she is way better than her students at her craft, but why them but not her!?

Living in the shanty town has one benefit. Everyone is equally poor and down on their luck. So it natural to be the support network for each other.

One of her most ardent supporter is lounge hostess neighbour next door.

"Don't give up!"

"You can do it!"

One day, this lounge hostess' gigolo lover absconded with all her jewellery and life savings.

When the protagonist tried to console and give advice to her distraught neighbour, she was taken aback when the lounge hostess snapped back at her.

There and then, our opera singing aspirant had an epiphany!

She had been taken for a fool all this time...

So that's what her ever so kind and supportive neighbours really think of her behind her back! Everyone of them!

She's the door mat in their neighbourhood.

A  few days later, she moved out of the shanty town to pursue her dream in a new city.

Sunday 28 August 2016

You are not a hammer

This Malaysian ad good!

They call it reaching out...

I prefer to call it - Listen.

I find this judgemental behaviour quite prevalent in our community.

Just because you seek "financial freedom" as a panacea to fill the hole in your heart, it does not mean everyone else are "nails" who need "hammering" too...

You can almost hear the seething anger as some share their frustrations when they failed in their attempt to evangelise the gospel of prosperity to their love ones or friends.

Don't they get it?

Money will solve everything!

Of course we know its crass to put money on our lips all the time; so we use euphemisms like financial freedom or independence to sugar-coat and hide the shallowness and emptiness we feel in the still of the night.

Next time you feel the urge to share your unsolicited supreme master of the universe version of how to save and invest your way to Nirvana 30 years into the future - stop.


To listen, we must observe.

Maybe you'll discover this person is a screw?

And you only a hammer; not a screwdriver. Wink.

Yes, that's also probably why you struggling with your day job, or relationships in general.

First seek to understand; then to be understood.  

(7 habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey)

Thursday 25 August 2016

Calm before the storm?

Ever had this feeling where you suddenly felt something is not right?

Like walking into a empty classroom or poking your head outside your cubicle and finding no one around!?

Well, I'm having my moment now.

The fisherman is out catching pokemons... Turning into 老玩童?

Butterfly has been under radio silence for quite a while... Kenna caught by spider? Oh! Its you 妹子... Good catch! Sorli, sorli... I'll close the door now; you both carry on...

The masked nudist has turned into Uncle Agony...

And where the hell has coconut AWOL to?

I know. Market boring...

There's only so much fun in me going around with a pin, pricking balloons full of hot air...

It seems those got patience are practicing 高山不动...

As for those 流水不安, make a guess what are they doing?


Monday 22 August 2016

Why we love Top 10 lists

When you walked into a bookshop, do you take a glance at the Top 10 best sellers list?

How about music? Top 10 lists galore! One for each music genre...

Top 10 travel destinations anyone?

Do you know why marketers love Top 10 lists?

On the same note, just imagine some clueless Singaporeans have to depend on some ang mohs - do a small rush rush sample; give a few stars - to tell us which hawker food here is good? (If you are a foreign worker or tourist I can understand. But its our freaking backyard!)

And this one better! Joseph Schooling seen eating his chye tow kueh, and we already have monkey see monkey do copycats... 

Now you know why corporates pay millions to top athletes to endorse their products. Wink.

Make a wild guess whether our investing/trading community exhibit similar group behaviour?

The psychology is the same right?

We feel much better in crowded trades and/or riding the same investment theme of the month...


We all have our favourite chicken rice hawker stall. And we probably eat there at least once a week. But when we have a foreign friend visiting us, and he wants us to recommend a good chicken rice stall, what do you do?

Bring your foreign friend to your regular stall, or that one at Maxell Road market?

OK, this poke is reserved for men.

When we want to pee, we just go to the toilet ourselves. We are our own man.

But when it comes to investing/trading, ever wonder why you suddenly become so "gu niang"? Must have someone accompany you; and hold hands some more! 

P.S.  I've been practicing (not theory) Sales and Marketing all my corporate life that I don't even think about it anymore. It's 2nd nature to me.

Special thanks to the butterfly for his comment at my previous post made me aware of why I put my 10 Ten blog post there in the first place.

No, I'm not taking it down.


Thursday 18 August 2016

I poke myself


Don't be so eager.

First, some foreplay to get us into the mood:

mrbrown's Joseph Schooling Bandwagon List of Shamelessness

Singapore National Olympic Council warns local corporations against jumping on Schooling's coattails

I'm shameless

If you look at my "Popular Top Ten Posts" at the right, can you spot the shameless post?

Yup, its that Dr Richard Teo Keng Siang post.

I can give all the crap excuses like:

a) It was done during my early days of blogging... I don't know!

b) There was no intention to increase page views by leeching on to the topic of the day...

c) Others also doing it what?

Let's call a spade a spade. I was shameless. Period.

The road to recovery starts from admission; not denial.

Crash got sound

When I start to receive page views that were not from the usual readers in our community, surprise turned into embarrassment...

I realised what I've done wrong.

I've stumbled onto one of the secrets to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

That's why when I want to add my 2 cents to a current event nowadays, I'll wait a few days; and more importantly, I'm now more aware what not to use as my post heading.

That hollow and empty feeling

Ever felt like it before?

A bit like being a substitute who never played a single match with the team that won the Championship? Would you go round telling others about your "achievement"?

How about if I go buy that Phd from a degree mill and start putting a "Dr" in front of my name? Who am I kidding right?

That's how I felt each time I look at my Top Ten Posts.

How I wish I can delete that post and pretend it never happened.

But no.

I left it there as a constant poke to myself - don't do that again!

Making mistake is OK; but making the same mistake twice is not OK!

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Income Statement versus Balance Sheet

Equities investors focus on the Income (Profit & Loss) statement - how much you make?

Corporate bond investors focus on the Balance Sheet statement - can you pay me back?

Some corporate bond investors and peer-to-peer lenders have found out the hard way the differences between making secured and unsecured loans...

Have you seen the title deed to your property? The smart bank is "safe keeping" it for us until we have paid our loans in full. So very the kind of them!

As a minority shareholder, especially if you belong to the camp where you believe that makes you part owner of the listed company, does earnings matter to you?

Warren Buffett has famously said he does not understand gold - it has no yield.

How do you value an asset that does not generate any yield? Can't use Discounted Cash Flow can you?

And yield is just another word for earnings.

Now comes the tyre hits the road moment.

What if I tell you earnings don't matter for equities?

Will you swallow it hook, line, and sinker?

But its free info!

Excellent! You are awake!

You know the Singaporean retort if you complain about your losses after following "free" advice:

"If I tell you to jump off a bridge, would you jump?"

But I'm kind. I'll give you a refund.

You paid me "nothing"; I'll refund "nothing" in return.

There! Happy now? Take "nothing" and go.

P.S.   For the record, I disagree with Warren Buffett's view on gold. If you share Warren's view, I'll be most glad to be the karung guni man to take all the worthless pieces of yellow metal off your hand.

I'm generous. I'll give you in exchange my e-book valued at $88.88 retail for absolutely nothing at all!

What good is conviction if we don't act upon them?

Friday 12 August 2016

How to lose weight in 4 easy steps - that's how financial freedom is achieved too!

Watch till the end.

I wanted to say quite a lot.

On 2nd thought, maybe I'll leave it up to the readers to figure it out for themselves.

The director of this short video quite creative!

Wednesday 10 August 2016

Career advice for 20 somethings - that's how I approach investing too!

Found this interesting pushback article in my Facebook:

Before I go on, I would strongly recommend you read the original career advice from the BCG boss - the link is inside the article above.

If you are now in your 20s or early 30s, which career advice appeals to you more? Don't think! Just follow your instincts! Say it out!

For those of you who are in shepherd positions in your 40s and 50s, what say you? Of course you knew the answer already - if not you won't be where you are today...

Investing edge

If you can't poke holes when reading other people's investing thesis; or you have a habit of blocking out the opposing viewpoints - stop asking why stock prices have gone against you!

When I have a strong investing thesis, I don't seek out those who agree with me. What's the point in that?

Joy is when I can find opposing views to my stock convictions!

First I'll do my best to turn to shreds those contrarian voices. If I fail, that's an easy tell my original thesis was probably half-baked...

Ego bruised; but saved myself a few bucks. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy...

For those times I stood my ground, I'll put my money where my mouth is. Skin in the game!

The good thing is that when stock prices go against me, I already knew what were the catalysts - they were foretold by those whom I've dismissed remember?

I get out.

That's beauty with spending time with people who don't agree with what I say! Wink.

How do you sharpen your sword or saw?

By going against a grindstone.

Monday 8 August 2016

Chor Dai Dee and CPF proposed changes

When I was working at Montgomery Ward Buying House as the Hardlines merchandiser, I picked up this interesting card game called "Chor Dai Dee" from my bosses.

The MD and QA manager were both Hong Kongers that applied for Singapore PR and citizenship due to the 1997 HK hangover thingy.

It's one cool game!

You know the CPF proposed changes?

I deliberately held my hand.

Now that most of the key animals in our community have showed their hands, its time for the grasshopper have a bit of fun to discover who is not wearing any clothes...

More choice and flexibility?

When CPF Life was first introduced, how many options were offered?

4 right?

What were the reasons they gave for streamlining it to the present 2 options?

So they changed their minds again?

Want to bet once they tried to explain concepts like Net Present Value, Nominal and Real Inflation Rates to the same people who find 4 options too many and confusing, which way will the pendulum swing in the future?

Really? You want to go there?

We believe this is good for you; and in your best interest

For those who still remember the previous permutations before the present CPIS were introduced, compare it to the arguments for LRIS, any difference in marketing spin?

What were the projections? Now compare it to the present reality where only 16% of CPF members using CPIS made more than the 2.5%...  

Talk about unintended consequences...

You mean we can arrest the self-inflicted underperformance of CPF members with low fees and longer lock-up periods?

Pray tell why you didn't think of it when you introduce CPIS?

(So much for goals, objectives, and having a plan... Its still reacting to crash got sound mah)

Some animals have already declared LRIS as good, better, best!

Of course its vested interest.

Opinions anyone can give. Nothing wrong. I do that a lot too!

The performance of CPIS we can evaluate now as there's 10-20 years of actual track records from CPF members - not excel file projections like for Wholelife insurance policies.


LRIS not even introduced yet. Your opinion based on what?

Well you see, based on the past 20 years of data-mined statistics... and we project it forward another 20 years... you'll get...

OK, now try explaining it to those 84% CPF members under CPIS.

Ah! You see the fine print at the bottom?

Past performance is not indicative of future...

Eh? Then why you bring up past statistics?

Today's weather very nice hor? Sorry! I got to go to the beach!


Spear and shield

Don't you get a feeling there's mixed messages?

Sometimes they treat you like idiots, or widows, and orphans. Draw cartoons and make it real simple for you.

Look dee dee, this is how you draw a circle...

Sometimes, their faith in us is so great it feels like that scene in Forest Gump, "Run! Run Forest run!"

CPF is good

Don't get me wrong. I like CPF.

I've worked in 2 other countries with different systems from us.

The key difference is ours is a pay-as-you-go system. It puts personal responsibility right in front.

Just as long we don't forget it, we are good to go. Wink.

Thursday 4 August 2016

What did my little fart wind blew over?

Li Bai (李白), the famous Tang dynasty poet, is also known as the immortal poet (诗仙).

Su Dong Bo (苏东坡), the famous Northern Song dynasty poet, is also know as the god of poetry (诗神).

Like most intelligentsia of his day, he like to dabble in a bit of Zen from time to time. 

One day, full of pride and self belief on his understanding of Zen, he wrote a poem basically self praising himself on how his grasp of Zen is so immovable that its like the tall mountain; nothing can shake him from his conviction.

Su Dong Bo
asked his page to deliver this poem to the abbot of the monastery just outside the city to seek affirmation.

Yup, you know and I know he is trying to fish for a compliment ;)

The abbot took a glance at the poem and without saying much, wrote on the letter - Fart.

Upon receiving the written reply from the abbot, Su Dong Bo flew into a rage and rushed to confront the abbot, mumbling to himself, "Why that bald donkey..."

Just as Su Dong Bo burst into the chambers of the abbot, the abbot turned around and smiled, "Look what did my little fart wind blew over?"

Upon hearing these words, Su Dong Bo's face turned crimson and he can only let out a silly grin...

Can you figure what when on?

Did you notice I use this technique a lot with my commenters and fellow bloggers?

Tuesday 2 August 2016

What if guys and girls switched roles?

Merry Christmas everyone!


Too early?

If you in the mood, every day is a holiday!

Ho, ho, ho.

I know, don't you just hate grasshoppers?

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